2. Bundesliga – Matchday 26 Review: Fortuna set on promotion course

There was always going to be a point where things took a slight dip and this was it. After two weeks of total chaos, 2. Bundesliga came down to earth. However, despite the lack of goals and incident, there were plenty of big talking points from a weekend where decisive strides were made.

Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 1. FC Nürnberg

The first half began slowly in Bielefeld as both sides eyed one another up with little to no joy when it came to going forward. It wasn’t until midway through the opening period where there was, finally, a chance of note. That fell to Nürnberg, though Adam Zrelak’s header failed to hit the target from Tim Leibold’s cross. Arminia’s only opportunities came late on and it was the visitors thanking their goalkeeper that they weren’t behind. Fabian Bredlow did well to deny both Andreas Voglsammer and Brian Behrendt, keeping the scores level at the break.

The restart brought more opportunities and openings for both teams. Nürnberg were creating and shooting more without very little luck. Zrelak, Leibold and Hanno Behrens were amongst the men trying to find a way through, while Behrendt and Keanu Staude continued to test Bredlow. Things continued to go back and forward until the final minute, where Arminia struck. Fabian Klos kept an attack alive and Manuel Prietl managed to scramble the ball to Konstantin Kerschbaumer to fire home and send the hosts wild. Their promotion dream continues to live on.

Dynamo Dresden 3-2 1. FC Heidenheim

It took  just five minutes for the game to get going in Dresden, as Moussa Koné opened the scoring with a backheel volley following Florian Ballas’ goal-bound header. Yet Heidenheim would level almost immediately, as Maxi Thiel sent a superb volley past Markus Schubert from Marc Schnatterer’s delivery. However, once again, four minutes later things turned again. Koné showed his pace and strength to beat Kevin Kraus to a 50-50, and then slotted past Kevin Müller in style. Thiel had a further opening with Schubert equal to the effort, while Dynamo continued to look positive going forward.

The entertainment didn’t end there and both sides were straight back into the action after half-time. Lucas Röser was doing his best to match his striking partner’s exploits, while John Verhoek was doing a similar job at the other end. After 10 minutes of second half action, the game was levelled once more. Schnatterer’s corner was hit with pace toward the near post and Paul Seguin got the unfortunate final touch into his own net. Schnatterer hit the bar with a free-kick late on but the last laugh would be Dynamo’s, who saw Koné complete his hat-trick and win all three points by sweeping home Jannik Müller’s cross.

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FC St. Pauli 0-0 Eintracht Braunschweig

Given where these two teams are in the table, it was no surprise that it was a very even beginning to the game. Sankt Pauli were on top in the early knockings, as Johannes Flum and Sami Allagui had chances. Eintracht, who had lost Georg Teigl to injury in the warm-up, were struggling to make the most of any time they had on the ball. Instead it was the hosts who came at it again and went close once more. Enver Cenk Sahin couldn’t find a way past the menacing figure of Jasmin Fejzic, and Aziz Bouhaddouz failed to make the most of Allagui’s good work.

The second half was somewhat similar to the first, although gilt-edge opportunities were more common as the match hung on a knife’s edge. Torsten Lieberknecht’s men came the closest of both teams as things wore on, as Suleiman Abdullahi hit the post twice in what proved to be a frustrating afternoon in front of goal for the Nigerian. The hosts had their chances but were also unable to find a way through. Fejzic was a major reason for that, as he denied Bouhaddouz and kept a calm head through-out. All-in-all, it was a fair result.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern

Kaiserslautern’s big games at the bottom showed no signs of ending in the past few weeks, and Fürth represented another battle. Both teams managed to create early openings but it was the Shamrocks who made the decisive move after 17 minutes, as a quick counter saw Khaled Narey cross for Julian Green to tap home at the far post. Philipp Mwene then almost contrived to score an own goal as Lukas Gugganig also came close. Despite the early surge, Lautern grew and were rewarded with Osayamen Osawe’s close-range finish from Brandon Borrello’s inch-perfect cross.

The restart changed very little and the game continued on in the same fashion with Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker and Green having opportunities. Any early openness soon dissipated and Osawe missed a huge chance just after the hour mark to give the Red Devils a precious lead. Then, just to rub salt into the wounds, some awful marking was punished. Maximilian Wittek’s corner was fired in towards the near post, and an open and free Mario Maloca wasn’t going to pass up the chance to head home. Some staunch defending kept Lautern at bay to lift them further clear of the relegation zone.

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SV Darmstadt 98 1-1 FC Ingolstadt 98

With so much on the line for both sides, like the majority of the matches this weekend, it was always going to be tight. Ingolstadt were out both Stefan Kutschke and Alfredo Morales, though it was a replacement who made their absence feel much less. Robert Leipertz couldn’t find a way past Daniel Heuer Fernandes on two previous occasions, but his third attempt was a curled effort past the ‘keeper after Sonny Kittel’s classy through ball. The Lilies weren’t deterred and saw Tobias Kempe hit the post with a header and fire over from a free-kick, though Ingolstadt were proving tough to crack.

Darmstadt began the second half with purpose and after much probing, they got level. Fabian Holland went down under pressure from Hauke Wahl and earned a debatable penalty. Kempe wasn’t concerned and duly slotted home. His goal brought a flurry of late action as both sides desperately went in search of a win. Ingolstadt had Ji’s finishing to thank as he passed up two excellent chances, although credit must also go to Ørjan Nyland. At the other end it was Moritz Hartmann and Stefan Lex who failed to find the necessary composure to end the Schanzer’s rotten form.

VfL Bochum 1-1 Holstein Kiel

Full of confidence after their win over Ingolstadt, Bochum went out to  build upon that. After just eight minutes, they were rewarded. Toto Losilla managed to beat out David Kinsombi on the right and set up Kevin Stöger to fire home via a deflection. The hosts were by far the better side and continued to press forward, only to find Kenneth Kronholm equal to both Robbie Kruse and Lukas Hinterseer’s efforts. Kiel were struggling to form much in the way of attacks, and their only opportunity of the half came through a Dominic Peitz header that sailed over.

The Storks were much more active after intermission, and no doubt Markus Anfang gave them a stern word or two during the break. However, Bochum were still on top and Dominik Schmidt would prove to be their nemesis. He prevented Losilla from extending the lead after a brave block on the line, and would go on to head Stöger’s indirect free-kick off the line.  In the middle of all that, Kiel made Bochum pay for their missed chances. Tom Weilandt fed Marvin Ducksch, who superbly finished past Manuel Riemann. He could have won it late on, although it still felt like two points dropped for VfL.

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1. FC Union Berlin 0-0 Erzgebirge Aue

In spite of their relegation concerns, neither side wanted to hold back when it came to early attacking intent. Philipp Hosiner tested Martin Männel before Steven Skrzybski and Grischa Prömel contrived to make a mess of what looked to be a simple tap in. Daniel Mesenhöler was largely untested, although Aue were keen to keep coming forward and Pascal Köpke looked lively up top. Union would come back strong towards the end of the half as Akaki Gogia continued to cause trouble, while Prömel cracked the crossbar on the stroke of half-time.

Köpke was a thorn in the Union side after the break and Dimitrij Nazarov was keeping Mesenhöler honest as well, though the hosts were still controlling the majority of the match. Männel was excellent all afternoon and continued to thwart Union, notably Hosiner, throughout. It was a thoroughly entertaining game only for the finishing and goalkeeping on both sides to prevent the scoreline from being run up. Union were the slightly better team but, all in all, a draw wasn’t an unfair result overall.

Jahn Regensburg 2-1 SV Sandhausen

It was a very tough beginning to proceedings in Regensburg, there was little in the way of control, finesse or general good play. Two of the league’s most surprising outfits failed to spark and it wasn’t until Marco Grüttner’s near-miss that anything of note happened. The deadlock was finally broken in the 28th minute as a swift move saw Joshua Mees released on the left and he drove inside to finish past Marcel Schuhen at the second time of asking. Grüttner and Benedikt Saller had further opportunities to add to the scoreline, yet failed to do so.

Jahn came out of the traps quickly after halftime and fired home a second goal. A poor back-pass left Schuhen in all sorts of trouble and Mees managed to beat him to the ball and do the rest, sealing his brace. However, Sandhausen are never a side to give in and hit back themselves. Nejmeddin Daghfous’ ball was controlled by Sahin Aygünes, and he remained calm to slot past Philipp Pentke. The visitors were the better side after that and, despite their best efforts and Tim Knipping’s miss right at the death, they failed to secure a share of the spoils.

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MSV Duisburg 1-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

The biggest tussle of the weekend featured the Straßenbahn-Derby, as Duisburg welcomed Fortuna. Thankfully there was no messy scenes outside the ground like last time and the focus was on the displays on the pitch and in the stands. That was the main talking point for the majority of the first half, as good intentions led to little. Mark Flekken did well to keep out Marcel Sobottka after making a mess of a simple shot prior. Fortuna would take the lead just before half-time as Oliver Fink’s pass into Rouwen Hennings’ feet was controlled and fired home from 25 yards in real style.

For what it had been built up to be, a clash between fourth and first, the game was fairly lacklustre. The absence of Florian Neuhaus in the middle removed a real creative outlet where it was badly needed, although Fortuna’s midfield three could not be questioned in terms of their work ethic. Kingsley Onuegbu came close for Duisburg with a spectacular volley, only for the visitors to seal the deal at the death. Genki Haraguchi’s enterprising run saw him shift the ball to Takashi Usami, as he struck between Flekken’s legs from inside the area. Borys Tashchy did reply late on, but Fortuna had done just enough and are now well clear of their challengers.

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Jonathan Walsh

Jonny is a 2. Bundesliga fanatic who does little else with his time other than follow, watch, write about, think about, and promote his favorite league. When he isn't in university or trying to defend the Bundesliga's 50+1 rule, you'll most likely find him watching whatever football he can find on TV. Follow him @jonathanwalsh_

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